The most anticipated children’s and YA books of 2021

While 2020 had some absolute gems, I am excited to read all the work that authors have been writing, polishing and polishing again during this past year.

We are going to be spoiled for choice for middle-grade readers in 2021. Nicki Greenberg has an exciting jewel heist story set on an ocean liner (The Detective’s Guide to Ocean Travel, March), while local favourite Nova Weetman’s The Edge of Thirteen (March) will thrill current fans and win her many more. Weetman is also co-authoring a book with friend Emily Gale in May called Elsewhere Girls (May) that I can’t wait to read.

Look out for Shirley Marr’s breakout middle-grade debut A Glasshouse of Stars in May. It encompasses a touch of magical realism and is predicted to tug at our heartstrings.

In July, Monica McInerney, who normally writes for adults, is dipping her toe into the world of children’s books with junior fiction (Marcie Gill and the Caravan Park Cat), and 2020 CBCA winner Pip Harry returns with a new book called Are You There, Buddha?

For teen readers, the year starts off with a bang. I have just devoured an advance copy of the new YA novel by Readings’ own Leanne Hall (The Gaps, March). Set in an exclusive private school featuring two very different girls and their responses when one of the students is kidnapped, it has powerful themes of feminism, racism and the insidious impact of the male gaze on young women. I was utterly transfixed.

Gabriel Bergmoser, whose debut novel was shortlisted for our Readings YA Prize, has a coming-of-age novel set around the world of skiing (surely a first in Australia?). Look for The True Colour of a Little White Lie in April.

Jessica Walton has a debut graphic novel coming out with illustrator Aska. Based on Walton’s brilliant short story in the 2019 YA anthology Meet Me at the Intersection, it’s set at a fan fiction convention and features disabled, queer characters.

I’m also excited about a new YA anthology by Afro- Black and First Nations writers. Unlimited Futures: Speculative, Visionary Blak+Black Fiction will be the book to read in October.

In nonfiction, Archie Roach’s memoir Tell Me Why is being adapted for young adults in March. It’s a wonderful story of overcoming adversity that is sure to be inspirational to young people.

Did I mention a new Scot Gardner, a new Lynette Noni, a second novel from Sophie Gonzales, the finale to Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s Aurora Cycle trilogy, not to mention all the recommendations this month? Excuse me, I really need to get back to my reading pile…


Angela Crocombe is the manager of Readings Kids.

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The Edge of Thirteen

The Edge of Thirteen

Nova Weetman

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